Be EnCOURAGEd at Work

The end of the year presents an opportunity to reflect on the hits and misses in your career over the last twelve months (or longer) and to resolve to affect positive change in yourself and/or in the workplace in 2019. To successfully accomplish any change requires emotional courage. It requires you to accept the vulnerability that comes with undertaking an open and honest evaluation of yourself, your colleagues and your company. You are vulnerable when you open yourself up. You are courageous when you proceed despite that knowledge. The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.” ― Brené BrownDare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts

Courage is a calculated risk. Whether it is gathering the courage to ask for a hard-earned raise, accepting a daunting promotion or proposing a strategic change about which you feel strongly to a company’s organization or culture, courage is about taking worthy actions despite the potential risk while understanding that not every opportunity to display courage is worth the risk.

Courage is a developed competency. Competently courageous behaviors, essential to successful leadership can be learned and performed by anyone at any level within a company’s organizational structure. They are not limited to any specific, inherent personality trait.

Below are three characteristics established in competently courageous people and opportunities to develop them within yourself:

  • ConfidenceTrue Confidence– not the “fake it til you make it” variety – is key. Confident people are better able to view setbacks or negative reactions as opportunities and take them in stride. Successfully navigating new situations or learning new skills – even when anxious in doing so – can give rise to generalized confidence and boost your connection to others. “Emotional courage is built when you take risks, which make you feel things. If you can act boldly while feeling scared, you’ll be unstoppable.” – Peter Bregman.
  • Connection. To establish connections, develop a reputation for choosing your battles wisely and investing in relationships with those around you. Excelling in your position and a history of standing with (and apart from) the people builds up your goodwill (aka your idiosyncrasy credits) with those whose support you may need to successfully promote change. Random acts of kindness or displays of gratitude are simple ways to build connections with others.
  • Commitment. Show continued commitment to the cause, the organization and to what Bregman coined the Big Arrow– “the most important outcome you want to achieve …”. Follow through and persistence are critical to any act of courage you demonstrate and any change you suggest. The more you are viewed as someone who is focused on the advancement of the organization as a whole rather than solely yourself or position, the more loyalty credits you earn.

Together, confidence, connection and commitment to the greater good of the organization builds others’ trust in you. Volunteering for a project outside of your scope, taking the lead on welcoming a new team member or putting in extra effort to benefit the company mission are individual acts of courage. But courage is contagious and “the level of collective courage in an organization is the absolute best predictor of that organization’s ability to be successful,” writes Brown. Maybe your next display of courage will be a game-changer.